[Album Review] Alice Cooper's 'Detroit Stories' Pays Tribute to the Birthplace of Hard Rock

In the last few months, Alice Cooper has been hyping up his newest release Detroit Stories with a new song release every few months. Aside from "Sister Anne" (MC5) and "East Side Story" (Bob Seger & The Last Heard), I already wrote about the previously released covers for “Rock n Roll” and “Our Love Will Change the World”! I’ve been letting this album soak in, and my favorite part about this album is the throwback sound, of a part of Alice that has always sounded like Alice, but even more so. I love those old albums like Billion Dollar Babies that the songs on Detroit Stories seem to have sister songs to. All in all, Detroit Stories as an album is a great homage to the older sounds and styles of Detroit City, and Alice Cooper himself.

“Go Man Go” starts with a fast punk riff and quickly picks up the pace when Alice sings. The band chants “Go Man Go” after each line before slowing the pace for the chorus, especially as he sings “I tried to take it slow…” Just like a true punk song too, it pretty much kept this whole pace through the song except for a clever bit just before the very end of the song that I really enjoyed! "Social Debris" was released on Alice Cooper’s birthday earlier this year, and was the only Alice Cooper band original released before the rest of the album! “$1000 High Heel Shoes” is extremely funky, and reminds me of an older bluesy feel. There are female back-up singers that complement Alice well, and really give life to the song! There are different horned instruments, like a big band feel with trumpets and trombones. I usually love when Alice does these kind of songs, or some songs you don’t always expect him to have actually recorded! The bass is super funky and the life of the keys bring it back to the 70’s.

The intro to “Hail Mary” has a cool, gradual build-up to a sound very similar to “$1000 High Heel Shoes”, with less of the big band. It has some juicy 50’s and 60’s style guitar riffs that are some of my favorite on an Alice Cooper album since Along Came a Spider. The bass is also very sneaky and really stands out in one part near the middle. Alice talking near the end of the song, as if he’s talking to Mary, cracked me up, thinking even back to his Trash album when him and Jon Bon Jovi bantered back and forth during the title track.

“Detroit City 2021” I really like the grittiness of this song as the guitar rings the song in with a piercing tone repeated to blend with the drums. A fun part of this song too is this is written by more of the current band Ryan Roxie, Chuck Garric, and Tommy Henriksen who has helped write a lot of the songs on Detroit Stories. This one stood out in my ear listening to the album in full; I feel I would really enjoy watching them perform this live! The beat is steady and the ambiance is soft but demanding. The guitar shines alone with some intense drums thundering amongst the guitar. The ending is also so different from the rest of the song with its faster tempo, but it works! The verses have such awesome writing bits instrumentally, lyrically, with the upbeat timing; it’s so fun to listen to.

“Drunk And In Love” is in a very, very slow tempo starting with just the bass and the drums. The guitars come in, sounding sad and almost slumping over the verses. Alice just sings along like he’s drunk in a bar, and someone is even playing a harmonica at the same time a guitar solo is playing. This ties in to his theatrics, and on the mark of those “random” songs he typically likes to throw in!

“Independence Dave” comes out with the punches of a taste how the verses will be. The songs changes for a moment so the band gets to jam out, which has the same flow as some of the other songs, until the verses stomp out a whole new tempo, and the drums are more in the background during the vocals. The harmonica returns to this song for the chorus, and it sounds like a huge party for the whole rest of the song, ironic since it sounds like Independence Day! This next one is really short and a bit off the wall, but it’s one of my favorite songs on the whole album.

“I Hate You” starts with only the guitar, along comes just the drums too. When they pick up together, the guitar wails for the rest of the band to come in. It’s an unusually bouncey rhythm as different people just shout out insults, mainly directed at the band, and complaining about spider eyes! Alice is then heard joining in, and the guitar and drums really thrive off each other again, and play something completely different than earlier in the song. There’s even vocal chanting in the song to spell out “I H-A-T-E Y-O-U”! “Wonderful World”, at first, honestly reminded me of some of the older video games like World 8 of Super Mario Bros. 3, that I grew up playing since it is very minimal and direct. I also really liked this song even though it’s another short song! “Wonderful World” is also in the lower register so it feels spooky and even a little isolating. It, theatrically, really throws you into the song though since it’s so mysterious. It reminds me of a cool mixture of Alice’s albums Brutal Planet and Dragontown. The chorus has a group vocal effect that matches the eeriness.

The cover of MC5’s song “Sister Anne” has such a cool intro, how the band seem to take turns having fun taking a lead on jamming before the song actually started. It’s the longest and only explicit track on the whole album, but the whole groove does match the Alice Cooper band, and especially Detroit Stories in particular. When the guitar solo switches on and off, I envision the guitars having fun taking turns to fully rock out each of their parts. The whole jam session takes about half the song, so there’s plenty of time for everybody! There’s even two high harmonies facing off against each other near the end before Alice rings everyone back in!

“Hanging on by a Thread (Don’t Give Up)” begins softly, and Alice Cooper himself talks before he starts to sing the song. With all the hardships 2020 and Covid-19 brought, it was his message to all his “minions” addressing the last year. He twice more talks to the fans with words of encouragement, and even information about the Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255 (for our American readers). The guitar solo was so airy and was my favorite guitar solo on the whole album to listen to. The message is really clear though, and I really love how he went out of his way to do what he could.

“Shut Up and Rock” is just over two minutes long, and directly instructs to not worry about the rest of society and the problems in it! What’s important is to just focus on the music! Alice actually repeats “Shut Up and Rock” over and over, almost like “Hey Stoopid” when he was trying to lead teenagers along the right path. He understands things are upsetting, but things will be better if you just listen to music and actually enjoy it! There’s actually a mini-guitar solo, and a really cool change up at the end of the song they did to not make the whole song sound mostly the same, because it was following that awesome old punk style with the short song length!

“East Side Story,” the aforementioned Bob Seger & The Last Heard cover, leads with such a cool drum beat with the rest of the band joining in. The vocals are low-key, and the bass is having a lot of fun between each part of this song playing the melody and even a little extra. It is a little funky, and the group vocals joining Alice in the chorus sounds so great. The girls singing the different “ooooo”’s throughout the last half of the song gave that much more depth to “East Side Story”. When Alice stops singing, the band has one final time where they just play all kinds of melodies, and there is a point where you can distinctly hear the keyboards that have been discreetly in the background the whole time! I love how it closes with that awesome drum beat the song started with, and I thought it was a great way to end the album!

Detroit Stories is available now via earMUSIC.


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